Why does it take me so long to write a book? Because of this. Can you tell what it is? If you know me, you’re already saying ‘cat bed’ and you’d almost be correct. But the truth is a little more nuanced than that. You see, this is a Hatshepsut Pot Pie. Let’s take a closer look and I’ll show you what I mean.

In this next photo, you see the actual cat bed, and the homemade blanket I sewed for the cats for the holidays one year. Don’t judge. Sewing is distinctly not one of my skills. The cats were touched. So there. But still. There’s more to this than ‘cat bed’. Think of the purple bed as the bottom crust and the cover as the top crust.



FillingHere’s the filling – a sweet, warm, sleepy Hatshepsut. The other cats climb onto this bed and flop down like normal cats. Not Hatshepsut. She digs and digs at the blanket. I’m expected to stop what I’m doing (no matter what kind of scene I’m in the middle of writing), get up, and lift the blanket so she can climb in between the bed and the cover. I’m to tuck her in – sealing the top ‘crust’ to the bed so no drafts get in. There’s usually nonsense chat involved. “Do you want to be Hatshepsut Pot Pie? Come on, I’ll help. Here you go. Here’s your pot pie.” She purrs and purrs, especially after I’ve tucked her in. I’m left with a cat bed with a purring lump in it. This lasts until her brother or her sister jump up and flop atop the bed, not realizing that it’s already occupied.

Silly? Yes. Cute, though. And it’s always wise to cultivate your relationship with critters who are pretty sure they could take you in a fair fight.


thCA95AW35I’m afraid of wind. Kind of always have been and I don’t know why, exactly. Stupid, isn’t it? Especially since I live on a sailboat that relies on wind in order to move? Truth is, on the boat, I’m not afraid of wind. It’s when we’re not on the boat.

Being afraid of wind in Western WA has some basis in rationality. Here, windstorms have a tendency to be deadly. We have a lot of clay soils. When they’re dry, the clay is like concrete. I say this as someone who’s tried to dig holes in it so we could plant trees at my parents’ house. But when it rains, and the soil gets saturated, the clay turns slimy and slippery. Add wind and the wet soil can’t hold on to tree roots any more. Great big trees crash down and squash people. Really. It’s not uncommon to get to the other side of a wind storm in this region and have a death toll.

Still, I get that my fear isn’t rational. I mean, the odds of being in the wrong place at the wrong time has to be pretty remote. It doesn’t change the fact that when I’m sleeping on land somewhere and the wind comes up – I lie there listening to the trees creaking and groaning too nearby. News reports about a couple killed while they sleeping in their bed because a huge fir tree came down on their house plays through my head. I don’t get much sleep.

But on the boat? Wind is no big thing. Especially while we’re at dock. Sure our lines creak and groan. The fenders bounce off the sides of the boat, and our home dips and dances under us. It can get a little dizzy-making, but it’s not dangerous. Out in the marina, there’s nothing to fall on us. The biggest concern during a windstorm is someone’s boat cover blowing free.  No, on the boat, we’re in more danger from a lightning strike, since we’re sitting there with a metal lightning rod sticking into the air in the form of our mast. Our saving grace? There are about 2,000 other masts in close proximity, many of them taller than ours.

I’ve always wondered where unreasoning fears like mine come from. Did I get picked up an shattered by a tornado in a past life? Or was there some event from early childhood that I just don’t remember? What about you? Do you have unreasonable fears about things you can’t control?

If you’re on my Facebook page (all are welcome – I’m only occasionally inappropriate there) then you know that my eldest cat, Erie, is in the process of taking her bows and making her exit. We’re doing our best to make sure she’s comfortable, warm, and that she knows she’s adored. She’s heartlessly thin – to the point that her head is vastly oversized for the rest of her body. It’s a function of age, I guess, that she can’t absorb nutrition very well even when she has the energy to eat. She was 18 in July. As of the middle of September, she’s lived with us for 18 of her years. It hurts to say we won’t get to 19.

Hatshepsut Sits with Erie

Hatshepsut Sits with Erie

My youngest cat, Hatshepsut, has worked this all out on some level. In the past two weeks, she’s started sitting with Erie every night after dinner. Not touching, mind you. A cat has her standards. But nearby. Facing her frail, much older sister. This is the cat who lived to make Erie’s life a living hell. Whatever Erie had, Hatshepsut wanted. And when Hatshepsut first came into the house as a kitten, Erie ruled the rooster with an iron paw. As Erie aged and Hatshepsut came into her own, she never let Erie forget a single cuff she’d delivered to the upstart kitten Hatshepsut was. But now, their prickly relationship has mellowed as Erie has dwindled and Hatshepsut takes up position beside Erie’s bed each evening. When I go out to check on them, Hatshepsut glances up at me with wide, questioning eyes.

I keep telling her I can’t fix this for her. No one can. Not even Erie.

This fills Hatshepsut with anxiety. The hour before bed time, she lays down a tense, needy blanket meow, demanding food her body absolutely does not need. Anyone who tells you that only humans eat to fill emotional needs are nuts. She clings to me. Usually when I’m trying most desperately to work. It does become a sort of tragicomedy after awhile; one of those cartoons where someone stands up with the cat still clinging to their legs with the grappling hook claws.

She gets a few kibbles just before bed. Sure. There’s no compelling reason – like actual hunger and a need for calories – for her to have them. But there’s every emotional need. Hers. Mine. Maybe Erie’s.

Sometimes I wonder if Hatshepsut is trying to store up extra calories so she can transfer them to her elder sister.

Feather hair extensions were THE thing – what? Five years ago? Naturally, that means I get them. Not far enough after the fact to be cool in an ironic, retro way. Far enough behind the fad to be vaguely fashion pathetic. The bright spot? The cats haven’t yet discovered them and killed me in my sleep in order to kill them.


This is my youngest feline, Hatshepsut. She has on odd fixation on rain. As a younger cat, she’d shred any number of window dressings in order to get at the windows so she could bat at the rain impacting the glass. Now that we’re on the boat, she gets to go out (after the rain has *mostly* finished) and catch her raindrops for real. I got video. Enjoy.

I’m at the Darker Temptations blog today where our topic is “Writing Tips”. It’s possible my writing tips include quotes from Galaxy Quest.


Stop by – over the next week and a half, you’ll get new tips every day of the week.


The Seattle Emergency Management office has a program in place to organize neighborhoods. The city is divided up into zones. Employees go into those zones, gather up groups of neighbors and teach them disaster preparedness, focusing mostly on what steps to take after a disaster has struck.

A few weeks ago, they came to the marina to organize the boaters.

We couldn’t help noticing they’d left us to last. We also couldn’t help noticing that they didn’t send an employee. They sent one of their managers. Were they trying to tell us they suspected boaters would resist being organized?

DSC_0018The problem they faced is that 90% of liveaboards in the geek mecca of Seattle are all secretly smug because they’re totally prepared for the zombie apocalypse. And yes. Say those words aloud at a meeting of liveaboards and then count the knowing grins. How do you think I convinced a man who grew up in the middle of the continent that living on a boat was a good idea? Oh, yes. I sold it as the perfect zombie outbreak survival platform. And I did it with a straight face.

The nice thing for the trainer was that boaters are pretty self-sufficient.  Our homes are self contained. Our boats all have their own power, heat, water, communication, and sanitation. And boaters are already conditioned to help one another. So training us turned more into restraining our excitement about “Hey! We could do . . . ”

Here are the general steps they gave us for what to do after a disaster.

1. Check yourself

2. Check your family (deal with injuries, do first aid)

3. Check your home (get safe-including turning off gas lines if necessary)

4. Check your neighbors (more first aid)

5. Assemble at a neighborhood pre-arranged meeting spot.

6. Search for anyone who’s missing.

7. Combine resources to keep everyone fed, warm and dry

8. Be prepared to be without services for 10 days.

That last one surprised a few people who’d missed the once a decade storms that take down all of our power lines for 7 – 10 days at a time.  Apparently, the old saw about 3-5 day just isn’t realistic. Know that. Be prepared for it. Check with your city or county and see if there isn’t a similar program to train you and your neighbors for the hazards endemic to your area.